Admission: 135 DKK
Match Rating: 3
After travelling back to Copenhagen from my first game of the day at Roskilde, it was soon time to make my way to what I considered to be the highlight of my groundhopping week in Denmark, with a visit to Denmark's national stadium, to watch the team generally considered to be the biggest not just in Denmark but in the whole of Scandinavia, FC Copenhagen.
Parken is located to the north of the city centre, buses are available, however I decided to walk the journey,which took about half an hour. The stadium towers above the neighbouring housing, and is as impressive on the outside as it is inside. I purchased my ticket in advance, making a modest saving in doing so, for a seat in the top tier along one length of the pitch. As seats are not allocated in this section, one could choose to sit wherever one pleased, apart from those seats reserved for season ticket holders. Although fairly high up, views were excellect and unobstructed, helped by a fairly steep incline with the rows of seating. The stadium, which has a retractable roof, is pleasing on the eye, with all stands being close to the pitch and all corners of the ground filled and three sides of the ground have a symmetrical look, with the rooves and tiers joined up. Behind one of the goals there is only a lower tier of seating, above which are offices and executive boxes. Whilst fairly small as an international stadium, with a capacity just under 40,000, it is much more than adequate for the crowds that FC Copenhagen (who actually own the stadium) attract, even being the most popular club in the country. Surprisingly, considering the club's stature and how programmes are usually provided at football matches in Denmark, no programmes were available for this fixture.
Unsurprisingly for a club with resources far in excess of every other club in Denmark, which have been further bolstered with their appearance in the group stages of the Champions League last season, FC Copenhagen have won the league for the last three seasons, and eight times in the last eleven seasons. A change of manager, with Roland Nilsson appointed during the close season after prevous manager Stale Solbakken left to take up the reigns at FC Koln, does not seem to have stopped the runaway train, as they have won seven and drawn the other of the eight games so far this season, and so found themselves seven points clear of tonight's visitors, second placed Aalborg. Aalborg have been one of the main challengers to FC Copenhagen in recent years, and won the title in 2007-2008, and have the distinction of being the first ever club to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League in 1995/96. Last season almost saw them relegated tough, finishing immediately above the relegation zone in tenth place in the twelve team league, just one and two points clear of the two relegated clubs. They have made a more promising start to this season though, with four wins and three draws from their eight games.
Unsurprisingly, it was FC Copenhagen who dominated this match for long periods, although they quite rarely really looked like scoring, indeed, it was probably the visitors who had the best chances to open the scoring, most notably on 35 minutes when Nicklas Helenius struck the post. Aalborg would certainly have been the happier with the goalless scoreline at half time, but they almost took the lead within a minute of the restart when Henrik Dalsgaard found himself in a good position, but eventually shot wide under pressure from a defender. Normal service was soon resumed however, as the home side dominated proceedings, but as time passed by and with sloppy errors putting an end to promising attacks, it was beginning to look like a goalless draw was looming. However, eight minutes from time, they finally took the lead, when a free kick from Christain Bolanos (who I had been particularly looked forward to watching, having looked impressive whilst on trial for Charlton several seasons ago only to be denied a work permit) was headed in bravely by Ragnar Sigurdsson. Soon after the goal, Aalborg has a chance to get back on level terms, but two minutes from time and FC Copenhagen put the game to bed, when Christian Grindheim played an excellent throughball and Dame N'Doye, top scorer in the Superliga last season with 25 goals, held off a defender before slotting home. So a deserved victory for FC Copenhagen, in a match which clearly showed the gap between them and the rest of the chasing pack.